Galen Murton received his PhD in geography and is an Assitant Professor in Geographic Science at James Madison University. With over 200 undergraduate students as well as several dozen international graduate students, the Geographic Science Program is one of JMU’s rapidly expanding degree programs. Hired specifically as an instructor of human geography, my classroom training and teaching experiences at CU Geography were fundamental to achieving this professional goal. In Fall 2017, I will teach History and Philosophy of Geography to advanced JMU Geography majors and instruct Cultural Geography as a new course offering in the Geographic Sciences Program. In Spring 2018, I anticipate teaching a course on applied geospatial technologies and cartographic tools, based largely on the curriculum I taught as GPTI for Geography 2053: Mapping a Teaching World. In future semesters at JMU, I also look forward to developing new coursework based on my training at CU, including Political Geography, Critical Development Studies, Geographies of South Asia, and Infrastructure and Geopolitics. I will also have the opportunity to design and direct study abroad programs at JMU to several of my research sites in Nepal and the broader Himalaya region. Because study abroad experiences were tremendously formative to my own career development, I am especially excited to bring my own undergraduate students into the field on collaborative research projects in the years ahead.
In addition to my faculty position at JMU, I have also received a Marie S. Curie Action (MSCA) Individual Fellowship from the European Commission Horizon 2020 program to conduct independent mobility research with the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich (LMU). I will take a leave of absence from JMU in my second year to pursue this unique opportunity as part of the ERC research group Remoteness and Connectivity: Highland Asia and the World (http://highlandasia.net/index.html). My MSCA research project at LMU Munich, Road Diplomacy: China in South Asia, builds directly upon and expands my dissertation studies at CU Boulder and aims to generate new knowledge about where, why, and to what extent roads are being built between China and South Asia and to untangle the inter-related geopolitical and social impacts of infrastructure development at village, national, and international scales. The project will first map road developments throughout the trans-Himalaya and second investigate the geopolitical drivers and social impacts of regional road construction. As a research fellow at a key European hub for academic research on Highland Asia and the greater Himalaya region, I look forward to building bridges of collaborative and applied scholarship between LMU Munich and the Tibet Himalaya Initiative at CU Boulder. I will also spend summer 2017 at LMU Munich as the co-editor of a forthcoming special-issue journal titled “Building Highland Asia” for the journal The Highlander.
My new professional positions are academic extensions of graduate training at CU Geography and I intend to maintain connections with CU Boulder and the Tibet Himalaya Initiative into the future. I will be back in Boulder in September 2017 as part of the Himalayan Studies Conference V, hosted by THI and the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS). As a Board Member of the ANHS Executive Council and CU alumnus, faculty member at JMU, and research fellow at LMU, I hope to build new bridges for Tibetan and Himalayan Studies between Colorado, Virginia, and Bavaria in the years ahead.